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  • William Hunton


If there were no accidents there would be no creativity.

Artists depend on them. Inventors, another kind of artist, depend on them. People play the Lottery hoping for an accident to occur. We yearn for the happy accident that opens our eyes to see through what is in front of our windshield without a rear end collision. Serendipity may be as much a benefit to our health as a good diet.

I have had this thought rolling around my pea brain for some time: At what point does a photograph cease to be a photograph at all? All photography is an abstraction which creates a tangible artifact, a photograph (an abstraction of reality), that is conveyed within previously defined boundaries of thought and language (more abstraction), which we all interpret as an image which represents a set of facts. How is it that colored inks, and dyes, and pigments - bits of rock and flower petals, and silver and platinum laid out in a pattern is so powerful? It is more powerful than gravity itself, the force that causes many of us to respond to a work of art in a similar way. It amazes me how many will respond to it pretty much the same way.

I think artists realize this and they cannot take their work too seriously, because they know it is not work at all but play, and with play there is always the element of surprise and joy in discovery. Without the realistic hope of a joyful surprise, play becomes a boring ritual. Consider that originally God wanted us to play all day long.

Yet, if an artist becomes popular he or she will be invited to speak before crowds of admirers and indentured students who take notes of the speech. Go figure. There are smarter people than I who have written about this. Susan Sontag, very specifically wrote about how we insert photographs between experience and reality. To me that is very insightful. Ansel Adams, writings are much more pragmatic. He was a great teacher. Freeman Patterson wrote of its joy. I like joy.

I got to stop thinking and just play. So lookie here at my accident! The original was unusable as a straight photograph. You may not be able to see it if you are viewing it on your phone, but there is considerable "banding" in the image. Banding occurs when you have a small file and apply editing effects such as contrast and sharpening to an image and perhaps try to increase the file size itself. The transition between colors isn't smooth.

When you edit a photograph you can check for banding by increasing the magnification of the image and increasing contrast. Bands of color or tone become apparent. They limit the size you can enlarge and view the image. It is probably okay for a phone or Instagram, but not as a 16x20 inch enlargement.

I think the image is pretty good. I caught the birds pretty well. It's a good composition. I like the circular line of the birds and how it balances the sun. The birds are sharp, but I just did not execute the rest of it very well.

So I thinks to me-self, "Self? I think you may as well play with this image and see what you can do with it." So I played. And I got the image below. It is still a photograph in some ways, but in the continuum of visual arts, it is skewed way more toward experiential than as an artifact of reality.

I kind of like it. So I continued playing into the wee hours of the morning with other photos, making the most of my happy accident. I like the emotional response I got from one person who saw it and got a kick out of it. I get the same kick out of it she did, and that is an amazing thing in my experience.


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